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EVER WONDER WHY NEVERWONDER
ROCK SO HARD?
JOY PEARSON, AND THE BROTHERS RAMOS OF NEVERWONDER
TALK TO ROCKWIREDABOUT TAKING CARE OF BUSINESS, BEING THEMSELVES AND ROCKING OUT
WRITTEN BY BRIAN LUSHThere are rock bands and then there is NEVERWONDER, a band hailing from Southern California (where they all seem to be from these days) made up of four distinctly different musical pedigrees and stories. One can ask how a musical theater/ballet-bred JOY PEARSON gave the finger to GUYS AND DOLLS and decided she was going to join a band with the likes of rhythm section VINCENT and ANDRES RAMOS and the omni-dexturous guitar player FLINT MAVIS, and you'll never get a satisfactory answer. All you'll get is great music. To put it simply, NEVERWONDER has arrived.
Their self-titled CD is a testament to their passion for the music. It's a catalogue of all of lifes feel-goods and hard times delivered with an undeniable groove, FLINT MAVIS' ax-work and PEARSON'S raspy delivery; a voice that distinguishes her from most in the pop-rock arena and will certainly have people making the inevitable comparison to JANIS JOPLIN.
ROCKWIRED had the opportunity to speak with JOY PEARSON, and the RAMOS brothers, VINCENT and ANDRES. Sadly, the bands guitarist FLINT wasn't availbale for the interview. Here is how it went.
How did NEVERWONDER begin?
VINCENT: NEVERWONDER is a group that started about a year and a half ago, but the bands only been together for about a year and two months. Me and DRE had been playing together for quite some time and we were looking for a lead singer and a new guitar player. We found an ad out of MUSIC CONNECTION, saw JOY's ad, called her up and it was a great vibe! We met up really well and had a great vibe all the way around, which is odd because usually you get the guitar player first and write a bunch of songs and then you get a singer. This was the opposite. We had a good-
VINCENT: Yeah, a rhythm section with the vocalist first and then we went through a couple of guitar players trying to find the right niche, enter FLINT MAVIS and things started to take off for NEVERWONDER in November of 2004. We started recording, and here we are today.
Is that true JOY?
JOY: That is true.
Tell me a little about yourself.
JOY: I'm originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and my background is completely in musical theater ever since I was a young kid. Don't ask me what the decision-maker in doing this, but I decided to move out to Los Angeles after I graduated from college. I sang a cruise ship line for about six months and saved up all of the money and moved out here to LA and i just decided that I wanted to be in a rock band. I got out here and just auditioned and worked with a bunch of people. The first band I started singing with didn't neccessarily work out and it took a while before I came across DRE and VINCENT. After going through several bands, I put the ad out in MUSIC CONNECTIONS magazine. At that point I had auditioned for about anywhere between ten to fifteen bands and I was just about ready to give up. By that point you just become frustrated and thinnk that you're not going to find the right click. DRE and VINCENT were the very last phone call I received. VINCENT talked me into coming down and taking that audition and that was the smartest thing I've ever done, so here I am.
How do you guys feel about this self-titled CD that you've got out now?
JOY: Very excited!
And it's been officially released, right?
JOY: It's officially out now. We had a release party at the WHISKEY-A-GO-GO and that was the official release. We wanted to release it to our fans and the press first. Now it's officially out there and you can get our CD off of our website www.neverwonder.com or anyone could shoot us over an e-mail at www.myspace.com/neverwonder. VINCENT: And the CD is available at CDBABY.COM.
How is songwriting broken down in the band? Who brings what to the band?
VINCENT: The overall thing about this band is really simple. We share everything. It's not a band that is driven by the vocalist or the guitar player or the rhythm section. That's the beauty of this band. Everybody is an equal in songwriting, in publishing and in brining ideas to the table. that's why this band is successful because everybody is a part of it and not just a hired gun. When you have four people working for the same goal, that's what happens. In answer to your question, one will bring in an idea with a guitar, then DRE will hit a great drum track, JOY will get inspired, I'll get inspired and then we just make it happen. It's very collaborative. We all get down and we all like to play together. It's not like someone walks in with a complete song and goes "This is what you've got to play." That's not what it's about here at NEVERWONDER.
I was just looking at the cover art for the CD and all of a sudden, a tear is coming to my eye. Is there someone in the band who is from the D.C. area?
VINCENT: The only person from the east coast would be JOY. JOY: Yeah, but not necessarily D.C.
Because I see a picture of the D.C. Subway.
JOY: Very smart!
I grew up in the D.C. area
JOY: Very smart! I was wondering, "...how the heck did you figure that out?" VINCENT: We'd been searching for cool stuff for the packaging and we think it's D.C.
It is D.C. because their Metro System looks like the DEATH STAR from STAR WARS.
VINCENT: Well, I do like STAR WARS. No wonder I like that picture.
From this new CD, are there any songs that stand out or have resonance for any of you?
ANDRES: I think the ones that are getting the best responses out of are the second track I'LL BE ALL RIGHT, the third track EVERYWHERE and the fifth track FATHER'S CHILDREN. Another song that's getting a great response is DOWN TO ME, which is track number four.
NEVERWONDER has earned some recognition in the Los Angeles area.
VINCENT: Yes, NEVERWONDER,in November harnessed their first two awards. JOY won an award for best female vocalist by ALL ACCESS MAGAZINE which is circulated hee in Los Angeles. We also won Best Modern Rock Band by ALL ACCESS MAGAZINE in 2005. We're actually very excited about those two award.
How are the live shows going?
JOY: I can't say enough about our live shows. They keep getting better and better and better. Right from the get-go, I think we put on a good live performance and show, but as we're growing it just gets better. Every single time that we have a show, we have fans that come out and say things like "...just when I think you guy's performances can't get any better, it does!" and that gives you such a sense of accomplishment. There are two different beasts; one is being able to record and lay down a good album in the studio and the other is going out and playing it live and I think this band has an excellent balance in being great at both. That' srarity. Our live performances have been outstanding. I'm really hapy about them.
JOY, you've got a background in musical theater and yet you found your way into this rock band.
JOY: I'm such a chameleon. Even before I was severely into musical theater, I was a ballet dancer. it's the strangest thing where life winds up taking you and i can't really say or pin-point what made me want to make the transition from musical theater to rock music. I have no idea. One day I just said "...I'd really like to give this a try."
This next one is for VINCENT and DRE. How did it begin for you? Music, I mean.
VINCENT: Our parents were people who didn't put restrictions on us in the sense that we had to be jocks or musicians or really goostudents. They were like "...be yourself." We could do what we wanted and for me I have to give it up for my parents for not pushing us into anything. I grew up loving sports, so I'm a very competitive person by nature, but my parents said, "If you wanna do music, do music." They wanted us to be happy so music took a turn when I was fifteen of sixteen and from then on, it's been something that I've been very passionate about. It's not about wanting to do it. It's about having to do it because it makes you happy and it's really been a lot of fun.
ANDRES: For the most part, I grew up, like VINCENT said, doing a lot of different stuff like putting sand inside of a box to make it sound like a snare drum, Quaker Oats Boxes and turning the tupperware upside down. My mom always knew I wanted to play and she actually put aside a little money and we bought the kid's drum set from across the street. The first song I learned was HIGHWAY TO HELL, and then I did the marching band-thing which I grew out of but learned to read music-wise from that experience.
When you guys got together as NEVERWONDER, what was the goal?
VINCENT: This band is very business driven. We've all been in successful bands in the past. JOY's been in musical theater and has toured around the world and FLINT has played in some really good bands. This bands goal is to write great music. It could be in th soundtrack field, it could be commercial, experimental or whatever, it's just got to be good. And going from there, we want to take it to the fan base and new fans across this country and hopefully the world. This is a very business oriented band. You've got to have fun with the music and that's what we've been having. Th business part is a little crazy, but it's exciting because you have zero fans and then you pack the WHISKY within a year. Hopefully we can make a nice career out of all of this.
What was it like to be in the recording studio for this CD?
JOY: First, we put out a four song EP so it kind of became - not a lengthy process of recording - but we took our time because we wanted the best quality that we could get.
VINCENT: As your know, the recording process for a local band, the hours are about the same for a band that goes in for about a week, but because of limited funds and finances, you've gotta stretch the sessions out a little bit. Roughly, it was about 20 sessions all together throughout the year of going in and laying down the initial tracks of everything. It was a wonderful process and we learned a lot. We've only been together for a year and two months so within three months of the band being together, we decided that we needed to have a product out rather than waiting a year and then getting a product out. We kind of learned each other in the studio and at the end of the day, the album kicks ass.
What do you want a person to walk away with after hearing your music?
JOY: As a band, we want them to absolutely enjoy our music and to enjoy the time they spend with us when we are on stage. The most important thing to me is that we make our audience our fans and when a show is over i'd like for them to feel like hey've left it on a good note and that they got to escape from their regular day and their regular jobs and their regular lives and feel as if they've had a release. I think that's why a lot of people go to music, because they want to feel something.
VINCENT: We want people to walk away having fun and thinking "..That was a great band!"We believe in ourselves. We believe we are a great band but word of mouth and people talking means a lot more than us talking.
ANDRES: We want everybody to turn us on to their friends.VINCENT: So we wnat every one to walk away feeling like they got their moneys worth and that if they need to see a good band again, to check NEVERWONDER.COM and come see the next show.
READ THE SECOND ROCKWIRED ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEVERWONDER HERE
READ THE MOST RECENT ROCKWIRED ON-LINE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH NEVERWONDER HERE